On January 12, 2011 – on the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake – I began to invite professionals from around the world to join the Global Advisory Board for the International University Center Haiti. Within the first ten weeks, one hundred dedicated humanitarians agreed to a $1,000 give-or-get commitment, raising the first $100,000 for the planned center to serve as the nexus of global higher education in Haiti. The center is to be located in Léogâne, the earthquake’s epicenter.
The Global Advisors have been followed by badly-needed foundation support – four so far have engaged with our integrated development approach. The response to our plan has been extraordinary, allowing us to expand the vision: 500 Global Adcvisors in 2011, and another 500 – for a total of 1,000 by the end of 2012. These Advisors alone would generate $1 million annually towards the construction of the New Haiti.
Advisor Christina Bloem, M.D., M.P.H. “The International University Center of Haiti has a sus-tainable vision for the development of Haiti. I wanted to be part of this mission that creates in-dependence, builds capacity, and fosters the success of the Haitian people.”
The Center, to open in time for next fall, will provide both a base of operations and a base of knowledge related to the construction of the post-earthquake New Haiti. The Center is designed to serve a wide range of foreign efforts at building or rebuilding higher education institutions and programs to serve Haiti.
The Center will serve as the Haitian campuses of foreign universities where visiting faculty may teach one or two courses to Haitian students under the auspices of their home universities. These courses are planned to eventually be sufficiently demanding to earn credit assigned by the home universities.
Advisor Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, DPACSA. “Advising and assisting in the creation and activities of the Center is a natural extension of a long term concern for the health and welfare of disad-vantaged and challenged communities around the globe and the role that good design can play in improving the physical circumstances and quality of life for residents in these communities.”
The Center will also welcome visiting foreign faculty teaching under the auspices of Haitian institutions that are trying to reorganize, as well as foreign university faculty recruiting and giving preliminary train-ing to exchange students who will spend 3-4 years getting a BA or BS degree in the U.S. or other foreign countries. In addition, the center will host Haitian faculty who have lost their buildings and who want to reconstitute at least a partial version of their institutions.
Other Center programs will include:
Tutoring programs, staffed by foreign students, aimed at remediating inadequate sec-ondary education and preparing Haitians for applications to domestic or foreign colleges and college programs;
One or more two-year prep schools aimed at readying Haitian students for college – perhaps taught by former faculty members of damaged or lost Haitian institutions; and
Temporary housing and facilities for foreign foundation staff and academics investigat-ing what roles they might be able to play in building/rebuilding Haitian higher education.
Described as ‘Harvard Club meets MASH Unit,’ the Center will open in a gated compound initially with ten tents, each with two bunk beds. Center capacity will begin with forty guests, four to a screened tent with cement floor. Each tent will be replaced in with a concrete bungalow, with all construction built to international code ensuring strength to withstand future earthquakes and hurricanes.
Advisor Jason Buchheit, RA. “This marriage of idealism and entrepreneurship makes this en-deavor captivating on many levels, not just for the extent of change for the better being undertaken... but the intelligence and broad thinking that is applied while doing so.”
The Center will be located in the heart of Léogâne, epicenter of the earthquake, 35 miles southwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince. Léogâne is the gateway to Haiti’s South, including the beautiful cities of Jacmel and Petite Goâve. Depending on traffic, Léogâne is about one hour from the capital’s airport. The University Center will eventually offer airport pick-up by arrangement.
Advisor Andrew Eben Burdick, AIA. “Architecture is inherently a civic act, and as such, we as architects are both designers and activists. I have always believed that our profession has the ability and the responsibility to improve life in ways both practical and sublime. This responsibility is clearly evident within the rebuilding efforts of Haiti, particularly within the goals of Center.”
The Center will be spread over three strategic properties along rue de Croix. The Café and guest rooms make up the Main Campus, two short blocks from the Interim Campus, and three blocks from the Center Annex. The Interim Campus will offer open classrooms for events and programming, while the Annex will feature an additional 10 tents that will transition to bungalows. All three sites will offer Internet connectivity and feature Skype.
Advisor Robert J. Gore, M.D. “Despite the recent events that have taken place in Haiti we see a new energy stirring within the country that has been focusing on long term rebuilding efforts. The Center project seeks to help contribute to these efforts by assembling a multidimensional concerted effort. I want to continue to be a part of a team of global citizens that shares this vision.”
The Center stands in the shadow of its medical partner, the Episcopal Hôpital Ste. Croix, staffed primarily by American-trained personnel who will have complimentary membership to all facilities and resources.
Advisor Judith S. Lee, Ph.D., LCSW. “Creating the Center for intelligent, motivated Haitian youth is a very inspired and inspiring project. The deliberate milieu that could be built into the Center’s social structure as well as the academic curriculum includes literature, writing, drama, and fine arts.”
The Center’s global vision is committed not only to the national reconstruction of Haiti, but also specifi-cally to the rebirth of the City of Léogâne. The Center is committed to creating educational and em-ployment opportunities in the city, and for to help establish the city as a preeminent arts center to rival Pétionville and Jacmel.
Advisor Linas Liubinskas, Management Consultant. “When a weak economy is hit by a natural disaster, the populace becomes ever more disparate and the tenuous social fabric reaches its breaking point. Oftentimes, solace is only found in solid institutions. Thus, the Center can serve as not only a center of learning, but as a principal beacon for some level of cohesion.“
The University Center concept, by design, is replicable and scalable. Several cities plan to send young leaders to study our model in Léogâne for replication, to open branches across Haiti to aid in the devel-opment of tourism, and to support the construction of the New Haiti. These cities include Petite Goâve, Jacmel, and Ganthier.
Advisor Daniel Suchenski, LEED AP. “Following in the footsteps of Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; in-deed, it's the only thing that ever has,” I worked on a vocational school that fostered sustainable communities and educational opportunities in Nigeria and am proud to offer assis-tance in Haiti now.”
The International University Center pledges to support the efforts of Haiti’s own badly damaged university institutions. Of the 32 major universities surveyed in a recent study (INURED), 28 were destroyed and the other four seriously damaged. Many Haitian universities will likely never be rebuilt. An incalculable number of professors, professionals, and students fled Haiti after the earthquake, contributing to the brain-drain of these critically needed groups.
Most new foreign fellowships and international scholarships granted to Haiti will compound the emigration of Haitian scholars to foreign countries. The solution for building Haitian competence must be rebuilt from the ground up on site in Haiti. The International University Center of Haiti will do all that it can to support these efforts.
The University Center has roots going back to Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW), founded by Jim Luce in 1999. Orphans International Worldwide was specifically created as an institution focused on Raising Global Citizens that was simultaneously Interracial, International, Intergenerational, and Internet-Connected. OIWW Haiti’s Orphan Care Center will be constructed on the Center grounds.
Assisting the effort is The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, now procuring office/conference space in Manhattan and recruiting two dozen Associates – professional committing an hour per day in their field to assist in the Foudnation’s mission of supporting young global leadership.
To apply to serve as a Global Advisor to the International University Center Haiti, send resume and one-paragraph essay on why you wish to be considered to firstname.lastname@example.org. All Advisors bios will appear on the J. Luce Foundation website, now under reconstruction. Advisors are invited to the annual dinner and may visit the Haiti Center when accommodations open on a complimentary basis.
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